Friday, April 10, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 16.57: Again, What Not to Do

aupekShikaM n'aapi nimittam iShTaM
layaM gate cetasi s'odbhave vaa
evaM hi tiivraM janayed anarthaM
upekShito vyaadhir iv' aaturasya

Nor is leaving oneself alone a valid starting point

When one's mind is either lifeless or excited.

For that might result in severe misfortune,

Like the neglected illness of a sick man.

The meaning of leaving oneself along is clarified, in verses 16.65 to 16.67, with the analogy of a skilled goldsmith who, at times, neither intervenes to heat his gold nor intervenes to cool it, but simply leaves it be.

In the context not of gold refining but of formal practice, and in particular of formal sitting practice, what does it mean to "leave oneself alone" or "not to interfere"?

What Buddha/Ashvaghosha are indicating in this verse is that this is no question for a lifeless mind or an excited mind to even begin to ask.

So when I find myself in times of trouble, and Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom.... even those words of wisdom "Let it be" are a stimulus that should be labelled in big red letters: DANGER! HANDLE WITH CARE!

I am labouring the point, but so it seems did Buddha/Ashvaghosha: of primary importance is not what one does, but what one does not do.

One end-gaining Alexander pupil who went directly for the target of leaving himself alone, rather than more modestly attending to the inhibitory means-whereby, attracted FM Alexander's disapproval with these famous words:

"You are doing what you call leaving yourself alone!"

EH Johnston:
The subject of meditation inducing indifference is not recommended when the thoughts are either sluggish or excited ; for thus it might bring about a grievous calamity, like the illness of a sick man if it is neglected.

Linda Covill:
The meditational technique of equanimity is not recommended when the mind is either over-excited or depressed, for this may produce serious mishap, like the neglected disease of a sick man.

aupekShikam (nom. sg. noun from upa- √iikS: to overlook , disregard , neglect , abandon): n. indifference, leaving oneself alone
na: not
api: also, again
nimittam (nom. sg.): n. stimulus, antidote
iShtam (nom. sg. n.): sought, desired , regarded as good , approved , valid

layam (accusative): sluggishness, lethargy, mental inactivity
gate = loc. gata: gone to a state or condition
cetasi = locative of cetas: mind
sa: it
udbhave = loc. udbhava: existence , generation , origin , production , birth; springing from , growing
vaa: or

evam: thus, in this manner
hi: for
tiivram (acc. sg. m.): strong , severe , violent , intense , hot , pervading , excessive , ardent , sharp , acute , pungent , horrible
janayed = 3rd person singular, optative from √jan: give birth, be born, bring about
anartham (acc. sg.): m. disappointing occurrence , reverse , evil

upekShitaH (nom. sg. m.): overlooked, disregarded, neglected
vyaadhiH (nominative, singular): m. disorder , disease , ailment , sickness ,
iva: like
aaturasya = genitive of aatura: suffering , sick (in body or mind)

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